Let the Rain Fall and the Raw Sewage Flow
That would be bad enough, except that the sewers are designed to do exactly that.
The sewer systems under those cities were built to combine sanitary sewage with stormwater. When there’s no rain, the sanitary sewage flows into sewage plants, where it is treated and discharged. But when it rains, the amount of water in the combined sewers is so great that it would flood the treatment plants if it got in, so the system is designed to overflow into local waterways.
Hence the name “combined sewer overflows.” And hence the routine decision to shut down shellfish beds and close beaches after a rainfall, because of the bacteria, viruses and other pathogens and contaminants that the sewage contains.
The good news is that everyone recognizes that this is a problem, and work is being done to separate the combined sewers. The bad news is that some people, including Soundkeeper Terry Backer, think the work isn’t moving quickly enough.
In weeks like this, I tend to agree with him.